Jeddah: Saudi Arabia lifted a travel ban on Tuesday for expatriate residents from 20 countries imposed in February to curb the spread of COVID-19, according to the Ministry of the Interior.
The foreign affairs ministry of Saudi's agency for consular affairs said that the ban is applied to expats who were fully vaccinated in the country before they departed for their home country. Saudi citizens, foreign diplomats, health practitioners, and their families are exempted from the ban.
The agency informed that expatriates wanting to return to the country should ensure they were free from infection by undergoing all health measures.
The direct entry ban was imposed after a global surge in cases occurred due to Covid-19 variants from England, South Africa and Brazil, and the fear existed that the available vaccines might turn less effective against them. The ban had covered nations like UAE, Egypt, Lebanon, Turkey, the US, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Ireland, Portugal, Switzerland, Sweden, Brazil, Argentina, South Africa, India, Indonesia, Pakistan and Japan. Also, travellers who transited through any of the 20 countries in 14 days before visiting Saudi.
Many travellers used Dubai as a transit hub to circumvent travel restrictions to Saudi, which became impossible after the ban. Saudi officials warned of stricter measures if necessary if the public continues flouting regulations.
To and fro the Kingdom, flights were banned first on March 14, 2020, and resumed only on January 3, this year.